Thinking about a time when you will need help taking care of yourself is not fun. That is why most people put off discussing long-term care until it can't be ignored. But it is better to start long-term care planning early. Here are some reasons to start planning now:
- People are living longer and are more likely to need long-term care. Life expectancies keep increasing, which means you are more likely to need help at some point. At least 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Care expenses are high. Whether you receive care in a nursing home or at home, expenses are rising. According to the 2010 MetLife Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, in 2010 the average cost of a room in a nursing home was $83,585 a year and home care aides averaged $21 per hour. Those figures aren't going to start going down.
- Family caregivers may not be available. In more and more households, both partners work. In addition, children often move far away from their parents. This means that your adult children may not be able to easily take of you when the time comes.
- The earlier you plan, the better. By planning ahead, you may be able to preserve your assets instead of using them all up paying for long-term care. In addition, if you plan early, you may have more options for care.
To start planning for long-term care, talk to your elder law attorney. Planning steps may include executing advance directives and a power of attorney, putting assets in a trust, purchasing long-term care insurance, getting a reverse mortgage, creating a caregiver contract with an adult child, or transferring a house to children. Your attorney can help you figure out the best plan for you.